Nancy Smoyer American Red Cross
Donut Dollie 1967-68
9. Trip to Washington D.C. for the Vietnam War Wall Ceremonies, Veterans Day, 2017.
This is a rather long trip report about my six great days in Washington for
Veterans Day activities which I’m sending out to various groups and friends.
It was especially enjoyable this year because the names were read for five days, rain or shine or cold (in the 40s and less; photo below of rainy Tuesday). Also, the speakers at the ceremony were particularly appreciated--Maya Lin and Chuck Hagel and a nurse, Kate O’Hare-Palmer, who spoke very movingly. (Maya’s part is available on C-Span at about the 32 minute mark. https://www.c-span.org/video/?436708-1/veterans-day-ceremony-vietnam-veterans-memorial.) Two “regulars” told me that it was the best ceremony they’d been to. In addition, there was an evening gathering for Maya Lin and the next day an interview with Lynn Novick with Jim Knotts, VVMF president. (I didn’t stay for that because, as a volunteer, I didn’t want to be away from the Wall on the morning of Veterans Day when so many people are there.) And one more special part was speaking briefly with Ann-Margaret before she read her names?as charming a woman as I’ve been hearing about for years.
I was able to spend some time with two Donut Dollies, my Vietnam boyfriend, and other old friends. On Sunday I went to the National Archives where there is an exhibit of Vietnam materials that will be there until January 2019. It was fascinating to see originals of cables about the Tonkin Gulf episode, hand-edited speeches by Kennedy and Johnson, pieces of the conversations between Nixon and Kissinger and others, and much more. AND they had 3 helicopters on the grounds--a Huey, a cobra and a smaller Huey-type which I never saw in Vietnam. Their pilots were with them?all Vietnam veterans, some of whom had flown Donut Dollies around in Vietnam.
Perhaps the most meaningful part to me personally was seeing John Musgrave, a veteran I’ve been friends with for about 30 years but with whom I had lost contact for too long. (I even sky-dived with him in Kansas!) He was in the Burns/Novick documentary and I had tracked him down through that. Our meeting many years ago was so memorable that I wrote about it in my book: “I met one of my favorite vets, a Marine, at the Wall because I was drawn to what he was wearing--a collared shirt, an OD field jacket with his three rows of medals.....and a tie. That was class.”
The names will be read again in five years which is a great time to go! And next year is the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Memorial which will coincide with a Donut Dollie reunion--an in-gathering of Vietnam women.
P.S. As reported by Forrest, we saw each other long enough for a quick hug!
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